The Library of Alexandria : A Cultural Crossroads of the Ancient World

Christophe RICO & Anca DAN (Éd.)

Dernière modification : 5 janvier 2018

Éd. Polis Institute Press, Collection Polis Conference Proceedings, 440 pages, ISBN : 978-965-7698-10-5, 70 USD.

The Library of Alexandria
The Library of Alexandria

In 2015, Polis—The Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities held an international conference on Hellenistic Egypt’s most famous center of scholarship and learning. The interdisciplinary event gathered historians, archaeologists, and linguists, as well as specialists on the Septuagint and on Greek literature to discuss related subjects from a wide array of perspectives and to answer some of the most burning questions related to the rise and fall of this iconic institution.
Created and developed by the Ptolemaic kings, the Library of Alexandria was regarded as the world’s main center of scholarship from the 3rd century BC until at least the reign of Cleopatra (48–30 BC). The dream to establish a gigantic library that could assemble all known texts of the Hellenistic period, the outstanding achievements of the scholars who have worked inside its walls, and, finally, the mysteries surrounding its disappearance, have bestowed an almost mythic status on this monumental library.
Where was the Royal Library located exactly, and what kind of texts were kept there ? To what extent did the Library of Alexandria become a meeting point for different languages and cultures ? Should we distinguish between the Museum and the Library from an institutional point of view ? Were the book collections housed in separate buildings ? What caused the destruction of those collections and how much was lost ? Why do some ancient authors remain silent about the Library’s disappearance ?
The book comprises eleven articles written by the scholars who participated in the conference, as well as transcripts of the discussions that followed their presentations, an index locorum of all ancient source texts quoted in the book, an extensive bibliography, and an introduction by editor Christophe Rico, outlining the overall contents and highlighting their interrelation.
Christophe RICO received his PhD in Greek Linguistics from the Sorbonne University in 1992, and his Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches from Strasbourg University in 2012. He is currently a faculty member of the University of Strasbourg, full professor of the ancient Greek at the École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem and Director General of Polis - The Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities (, where he teaches Greek Language and Linguistics. This school specializes in teaching Classical and Semitic languages as living ones in order to enable students to read and understand texts fluently. His publications include La Mère de l’Enfant-Roi, Isaïe 7, 14 (2013). Le traducteur de Béthléem. Le génie interprétatif de saint Jérôme à l’aune de la linguistique (2016) and Polis - Speaking Ancient Greek as a Living Language (2015), which has also been published in French (2009), Italian (2010), and German (2011). He has authored some forty scholarly articles focused on Indo-European Languages, general linguistics, translation theory, hermeneutics, and Koine Greek.
Anca DAN is research assistant professor (chargée de recherche) at the National Center of Scientific Research, École Normale Supérieure in Paris, working on the history of Greek and Roman representations of spaces and peoples. She studied Classics, Ancient History, and Archaeology in Bucharest, Paris and Reims, and held research positions in Athens, Berlin and Washington DC. Her publications include her PhD dissertation on the ancient Greek geography of the Black Sea area, and Coelè-Syrie (Peeters 2017), together with Étienne NODET. She is currently preparing editions of Strabo (XIII), Pliny the Elder (VI 1-45), and Flavius Josephus (AJ XII-XIV).
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